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Jul 30, 2008 12:54 PM

Wine Doggy Bag Law

We had dinner at Locanda Vini e Oli the other night, and had half of our bottle of wine remaining at the end of our meal. When we asked if we could take it with us, we were told we could not. When I mentioned the New York State law, they said that the restaurant is still responsible for anything that might happen after the diner has left the restaurant, and that their lawyers have told them not to comply. Is it true that restaurants have this liability, and can each individual restaurant decide if they want to observe the law?

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  1. I would check with your state's Liquor Authority on that one. But here's some info:

    NEW YORK – A WINEDOGGYBAG STATE – Approved by State Liquor Authority
    SLA 588 allows the removal of one partially consumed bottle of wine if (i) the restaurant has the appropriate wine or liquor license, (ii) the bottle of wine is purchased in connection with a full course meal, (iii) the patron consumes a portion of the wine with the meal, (iv) the wine is securely resealed, placed in a one-time-use tamper-proof transparent bag which is securely sealed and, (v) a dated receipt for the full course meal and wine is provided to the patron.

    However, in some additional Googling, I found this article from 2004:

    Halfway down at the above link, it says: "However, just because it's legal to doggie-bag that Chianti, doesn't mean every restaurant automatically allows it.

    It's usually voluntary for the restaurant to participate, and some opt out amid concerns they could be liable if a driver toting wine home had a drinking-related accident.

    In addition, in some states, the rules vary by city or county.

    To avoid misunderstandings at the end of the meal, consumers should ask a restaurant about its policy before ordering.

    Some states, including Texas, Connecticut, North Carolina and Utah, require restaurants to offer the doggie-bag option.

    But even some of these laws don't explicitly say that restaurants will be punished if they don't allow it."

    So - in NY State, perhaps it's legal for the restaurant not to allow you to take it with you. And scroll down a bit further, and this very restaurant is quoted as not allowing patrons to take the unfinished wine home!

    "On a visit to Locanda Vini and Olli, an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn on Sept. 10 - one day after the New York state doggie-bag law took effect - the restaurant told a group of diners they couldn't take home wine leftovers.

    Catherine de Zagon, a co-owner, says that her attorney advised her not to let customers take out wine until October since the police might not be aware of the change in law.

    She adds that, since New York law doesn't require restaurants to allow doggie-bags for wine, she may continue to forbid them."

    4 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      You can find the law online at It is written so that there is no way anyone could actually comply: "The one-time-use tamper-proof transparent bag must insure that the patron cannot gain access to the bottle while in transit after the bag is sealed." Impossible - if it can't be gotten into in transit, how can it ever be opened?

      And, as Linda points out above, the law doesn't say patrons 'must be allowed' but rather 'may be permitted' to take the bottle.

      1. re: Dan G

        Thank you both for the prompt and informative replies.

        1. re: Dan G

          It can't be gotten into in transit if it's in the trunk, well, at least under normal circumstances. My cousin (in NY) threw a bridal shower a few years ago and was told she couldn't take out the opened wine bottles from the 15 or so tables, even though she had paid for them. We packed 'em in the trunk and took our chances.

          1. re: marmite

            but how is the restaurant supposed to ensure that the person puts it in the trunk? That's how the law is (poorly) written.

            As for you cousin taking 15 bottles- the law says one will be allowed; it would seem that if you had 15 part bottles still open, you ordered way too much.

      2. Here in TX you can buy drive thru daquiris. All they do is put a piece of tape across straw hole that can't be removed (sure) and hand you a straw. I suppose the same might done here for wine.Sorry to be a little off topic.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pickychicky1979

          In Texas, you can drive with an open bottle of beer!

        2. the law got changed in Florida about a year or so ago and we are now allowed to take leftover wine home with the cork back in.

          1. As others have said, laws vary by jurisdiction, but the logic behind changing the laws to allow diners to take their unfinished wine home is to reduce the incidence of people driving over the limit because they felt obligated to finish their wine when dining out.

            If I were in their shoes I'd consider that I'd be less responsible for you illegally drinking your leftover wine while driving home that I would be for overserving if you decided to rapidly consume the balance of your wine because I refused to let you take it home (not that I'm suggesting you'd do either of these things).

            1. Maryland is decided by juristiction(county).The restaurant re-corks,places the bottle in a bag,adds a staple or two.This is also done in catering sample/taste situations.

              You own the wine.Both you and the restaurant own a piece of the DUI.BUT,if they will
              gladly pour,even over pour,some common sense needs to prevail.

              I NEVER LEAVE WINE,doesn't say we drank it.I will pour it out,my perogative.You
              may not be surprised how often policy gets flexible where the law permits when you
              insist on a sink or ? for disposal.